AFC North NFL Draft: sizing it up (Update)

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So how did the AFC North do in the 2013 NFL Draft?

Well, I don’t believe in doing draft grades right when the draft is over- talk to me in a few years, then we’ll see how these picks panned out.

You can’t grade them right away; watch ’em play actual NFL football first! I pay as much attention to NFL Draft immediate grades as I do to live blogging or live game discussion threads.

Because Twitter is better than live blogging and discussion threads combined. Period.

That’s said, let’s review what the AFC North did in rounds 1-3.

Pittsburgh Steelers

There was a lot of noise about Pittsburgh grabbing a quarterback first in this draft; and it turned out to be only just that- noise. A useless smokescreen? At NFL Draft time? SHOCKING!

Jarvis Jones was one of the three picks I actually got right.  With Jarvis Jones you’ve got potential medical issues, and a very uninspiring 4.9n 40 yard dash. However, you also have a guy with franchise player potential and one of the more accomplished players in the SEC. From an SEC loaded with NFL talent. Sure Jarvis Jones took a huge dive, but he was considered a top 2 talent once upon a time. Jones is a LaMarr Woodley or James Harrison type who fits the system. And given that Pittsburgh is one of the marquee franchises in the NFL that’s quite a compliment.

It seems like the Steelers are always drafting LBs and RBs. So this draft was predictable, yet solid for the AFC North traditional power. Le’Veon Bell from Michigan State falls them to round two. He’s a big bruiser who pretty much was the Spartans offense in 2012. As well he should have been, did you watch Andrew Maxwell play quarterback in East Lansing? #Trainwreck

Rashard Mendenhall was shown the door. And as a former Illini and native Chicago suburbanite myself, I know a lot about Mendenhall, and I’ve known a lot about him for a very long time. Moving on to the Cardinals is the best for both parties. Now a new Big Ten tailback steps in.

Wheaton, Markus WR 5’11” 189 Oregon St came off the board later. Never heard of him.

Next!

Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illini

Hawthorne isn’t the brightest or most complicated guy around, but he’s very fast and has great coverage skills. He had just one interception last fall and 43 tackles, but his lackluster stats are misleading. Every player on Illinois suffered under year of regime change from Ron Zook to Tim Beckman. I know it sounds funny to say, getting worse as you go away from Zook, but it happened. Hawthorne played some WR at Illinois, but only out of need because the team was so God awful. He’s strictly a DB at the next level.

Shamarko Thomas SS 5’9″ 213 Syracuse

Well he’s certainly on the “All-Name team” that’s for sure. A poor man’s Bob Sanders? Too short to play safety obviously. But he just gets things done.

Landry Jones QB 6’4″ 225 Oklahoma

Obviously, his stock peaked in value as a sophomore. Dropped as a junior; fell even more as a senior. Again case # 2,987,543,942 that if you can go early, you really should go early!
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Baltimore Ravens

Matt Elam, FS Florida 5’10”

A lot of people mocked this pick correctly, so I wish I could say the same. As the Ed Reed era ends, a replacement is groomed. Elam has everything going for him except his height, and there’s nothing that can be coached there. He’s not short in real life; just undersized for the NFL. And short for a safety. But he did everything you could ask while with the Gators. As defending Super Bowl champs, the Ravens needs weren’t that many, but kudos to them for being assertive and going straight after plugging up the holes.

Brown, Arthur ILB 6’0″ 241 Kansas St

With Ray Lewis now an ESPN analyst, again the AFC North power went needs based in round two. Brown is an interesting pick. In a very volatile draft, he was a wild card. He was a first round prospect who slipped. How much this pick pans out depends on his ability to be versatile and fit the scheme. Brown is good in pass coverage and can play inside or outside. 20 years in a row a KSU player has been picked in the NFL Draft.

Williams, Brandon DT 6’1″ 335 Missouri Southern St

Interesting mid major pick.

Believe it or not, the Ravens have lots of needs; especially for a defending champ: TE, WR, ILB, S. They needed to make a splash. They should have drafted nearby Delta Gamma sorority girl Rebecca Martinson while they’re at it. She may be small, but we know she’s got a mean streak!

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Ricky Wagner OT 6’6″ 308 Wisconsin

Badgers OC change hurt this kid. Who graded out much higher a year ago

John Simon DE 6’1″ 257 Ohio St.

They took the wrong Buckeyes DT named John. Hankins is the one you want.

Kapron Lewis-Moore DE 6’4″ 298 Notre Dame

Also graded out much higher a year or two ago. KLM fought off some injuries in South Bend. And the Alabama Crimson Tide destroyed hsi draft stock in the title game; as they did to everyone on the Irish defense that night.

 

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Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Eifert  TE 6’6″ 251 Notre Dame

Stood out as the best tight end of the class by far. He has the size, speed, pass-catching and blocking ability you want. Great value pick, never thought he’d fall this far.

Bernard, Giovani RB 5’8″ 202 North Carolina

Very low center of gravity, squat back. Surprised he was the first tailback taken; not Eddie Lacy of Alabama or Montee Ball from Wisconsin. It’s a brave new world. The days of Trent Richardson and Cedric Benson going top 5 in draft are long over. You’ll often see the first RB go in round two or three now. Moving forward, the top of the draft will be dominated by passers, pass-rushers and pass protectors. Rushers? Sorry, you’re lower priority now.

Hunt, Margus DE 6’8″ 277 SMU

A combine measurables monster, and a project pick. The poor man’s Ziggy Ansah of this draft. Pass rushing is far from the Bengals primary need, so this a “flyer” to say the least. His versatility will help though.

Williams, Shawn SS 6’0″ 213 Georgia Bulldogs

UGA really represented well on days one and two of the draft. Prototypical size for a safety; a safe solid pick. The AFC North team most notorious for off the field issues avoided the Alec Ogletrees and Tyrann Mathieus of this draft. Should contribute right away on special teams.

Sean Porter OLB 6’1″ 229 Texas A&M

Fills a position of need well.

Rex Burkhead RB 5’10” 214 Nebraska

Interesting to see where the “Wonder Dog” would land. Weak RB draft, and he still couldn’t stand out. He’s a gamer; with a lot of heart. Just has mileage and wear and tear. Wonder what kind of shelf life the Cornhuskers tailback has?

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Cleveland Browns

Mingo, Barkevious DE 6’4″ 241 LSU

Lots of people were high on Kiki, who came out of nowhere to shoot up this high. This surprised me; I thought they would go for a corner to put opposite Joe Haden first. Obviously, they addressed that later. First they got a highly sought after edge rusher to fit their 3-4.

McFadden, Leon CB 5’10” 193 San Diego St gets taken by the Brownies, right before Mathieu, Tyrann CB 5’9″ 186 LSU

So this pick was intriguing most because of what happened right afterward. Arizona goes to baggage claim and picks up the Honey Badger while Cleveland goes more conservative. McFadden is quick and should have an immediate impact on special teams. If you can get that in round two or three, it’s win-win.

Jamoris Slaughter SS 6’0″ 195 Notre Dame

Damaged goods? Fought off some injuries. Overshadowed by Harrison Smith of the Vikings in South Bend. Slaughter played some linebacker for the Irish too. But he’ll be a FS at this level

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, and Walter Football. Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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